18 Jun

The Freedom of Information Act is a wonderful thing, allowing any private citizen or group to request and usually receive (except in the case of sensitive or classified info) copies of government documents relating to any and all manner of things, as the business of government is, by design in our representative republic, the people’s business.

FOIA can occasionally be tricky; actually getting the thing you want isn’t always simple – you have to know the right questions to ask and the right information to request. It’s not as simple as saying “please provide all the documentation related to $subject”; your best tactic for success is having a very specific request (and have a pretty good idea that the document actually exists) For a number of reasons, a narrow interpretation of FOIA requests is the norm (chief among these reasons is the fact that fulfilling FOIA requests is a pain in the ass for government employees who already have plenty to do, and denying something because it’s not specific enough is technically correct, and clears the tasking with minimal fuss). So, if you ever want something via a FOIA request, do your research to know what kind of documentation is available, and ask for that stuff as specifically as possible.

Now that the public service portion of this post is out of the way…

FOIA requests can also sometimes be pretty entertaining. For example, yesterday, the WaPo pointed toward collaborative news site MuckRock’s request for information on ” all records or documentation available to FBI agents or other FBI personnel or contractors which provides information on how to interpret or understand so-called ‘leetspeak’.” The request returned an 83 page glossary of internet slang titled “Twitter Shorthand“, which, according to the document’s author, federal law enforcement personnel “should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren.”

Not surprisingly, it’s amusingly out of date (FBI agents trying to decipher chat logs of facebook posts are probably better served by a simple google search or by perusing urban dictionary), but is probably minimally useful for someone, as much of it harkens back to the days when people used to use pager code (convenient example expressed on Angelfire, like all good early 90s references should be).

It also contains some entertaining and/or boneheaded entries that almost no one has ever used (unless they were trying to make “Fetch” happen), and perhaps a few trollish suggestions from the inside. to wit:

  • PMT: pre menstrual tension
  • KMT: kiss my teeth
  • SHCOON: shoot hot coffee out my nose
  • UDI: unidentified drinking injury
  • ALOTHSOL: always look on the bright side of life
  • BOGSAT: bunch of guys sitting around talking
  • BTWITHIAMLWU: by the way, I think I’m in love with you
  • DITYID: did I tell you I’m depressed?
  • IITYWTMWYBMAD: if I tell you what this means will you buy me a drink?
  • MSR: Mulder/Scully romance
  • PDBAZ: please don’t be a zombie
  • ROTFLMAOWPIMP: rolling on the floor laughing my a** off (while) peeing (in) my pants
  • RICE: race inspired cosmetic enhancements (parts put on cars to make them appear fast but don’t actually contribute to speed)
  • TANSTAAFL: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (wasn’t that Heinlein?)
  • WAPCE: women are pure concentrated evil
  • XYZ: examine your zipper
  • ZOMG: emphasized OMG

Anyway; it’s about as useful as you’d expect. Honestly, it reads a lot like one of those documents we used to find along with purity tests via gopher search on vax terminals back in ancient times.

It could be worse; at least it’s not this:


* – your tax dollars at work


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